When I went to the COP26 conference in Glasgow last year, I was struck by the sense of optimism that globally – at last – most of the major economies of the world had woken up to the need to move at pace towards Net Zero if we are to avert a climate catastrophe.
Both China and the US agreed to boost climate co-operation over the next decade in order to keep global warming below the 1.5C target, a huge step for the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases that are better known for their rivalry.
But it is the UK that has truly led the way in setting a global example of how quickly an advanced economy can decarbonise.
Since 2010 our electricity generation coming from renewables has risen from 7% to 43%, with the aim of complete decarbonisation of the grid by 2035. This will go hand in hand with measures, such as the phasing of out petrol and diesel vehicles by ending their sale by 2030 and steps to decarbonise heavy goods vehicles, planes, and industry the following decade.
By doing so, this country will be on track to hit being Net Zero by 2050 – a legal requirement I was proud to put into law as one of my last acts as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Achieving Net Zero by 2050 was a pressing issue at COP26. Recent events have made it urgent.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended global energy supplies. Once reliable sources of gas and oil have been cut off and are unlikely to return any time soon. This in turn has exacerbated the cost-of-living pressures coming out of the pandemic, driving up inflation and hitting households and businesses hard.
This means we need to double down on our Net-Zero objectives. It is clear the triple objectives of reaching Net Zero, energy security and affordable energy go hand in hand.
The UK is endowed with huge wind potential and this is being realised. The price of electricity from wind is now the cheapest form of power.
This has led to the creation of tens of thousands of high skill, high wage jobs in places which have lacked them in recent years.
By sticking to our Net Zero 2050 obligations, we will not only be helping our environment, we can make sure future generations across the UK enjoy a cleaner, more secure and prosperous future.
Greg Clark MP, former energy secretary, is an ambassador for the upcoming Green Infrastructure Week (24/29 April 2022). The week plays host to an extensive programme of free and live webinars – see the full agenda and register here.